Oh boy!, we got a big one here!. I like to think this dialogue is from Jaws, which they mutter when the protagonists meet, well the jaws (if that’s its real name). Well the video game industry has met its “Jaws”, this game is- well let me get to that.
Now this is a game I didn’t want to like, I had not even heard of the Witcher series and couldn’t care less when they were promoting this game by showing half naked women. It looked like a publicity stunt to an abysmal game. I then looked up metacritic and everyone was going completely bat shit insane over this game. So I bought it to see what the fuss is all about. I started the game at 11 pm and promised myself to not play more than 20 minutes (like I said, I didn’t want to like it), when I looked at the clock later on it was almost 5 am, luckily it was a weekend.
Now this game starts with a bang, it keeps your attention completely (by showing half naked women, dragons, a ting of some good old fashioned kidnapping and a epic castle siege within the first 10 minutes). Its almost like the game developers thought that they would lose our attention if nothing cool happened every 2 minutes, and the sad part is, they are right. This game is about a mistaken identity, I cant tell you more without spoiling alot of things so I will talk about the other stuff.
The other stuff meaning the graphics, now I have reasonably powerful computer (could play Crysis 2 at maximum with an above 30 framerate), and I couldn’t play this game above 20 fps, without lowering and turning off some settings (especially that monster SSAO). This may be that the game isnt taking full advantage of my PC or just that the game is too awesome, I like to think its the latter. The best graphics setting is called “uber”, which I think is a bad ass way of saying “your computer cant run it, its that awesome“.
But that aside the graphics are amazing, the world seems alive, and the water and rain effects are to die for. Combat is amazingly hard, even at the “normal” setting which for me is like “super hard” and the “insane” difficulty setting is the equivalent of “trying to play the piano while both your hands are tied to your back and while reciting Shakespeare to a crowd of 10,000 spoiled oxford graduates at the same time”, because once you die, you are dead, no backsies, save files no longer work, yikes!. Its almost impossible. Fighting mechanics reminded me of Assassins Creed Brotherhood. You have 3 main attacks, small, heavy and magic. Magic is the least useful in my opinion against large crowds. You can make a chain of deaths attack (just like in ACB) because the moment you kill a guy, Geralt rushes to the next one and deals a deadly blow, it was quite cool but I found it hard to get the hang of it.
Now the sound was extremely good and atmospheric, and the opening cutscene sets the mood perfectly, I can give you guys a youtube link here, but I would rather you experience it first hand when you start the game. The music at some moments reminded me of the Gladiator soundtrack. At some times depressing, others upbeat and at other times epic.
Criticism (or nitpicking)
Now for some criticisms, this time there are only a few, for one, the character isnt that deep as some critics have said, Geralt isnt exactly Jean Valjean (that guy from Les Miserables) but I admit he has some charm.
Another thing I hated was (which happens in all rpgs and they fell for it too) is what I like to call the “useless crap loop”, I am referring ofcourse to the fact that most of the stuff you find/steal is just pieces of cloth and rocks, I am serious they serve no purpose (as far as I know, unless I just skipped over a crucial bit of the game) and the only thing you can do is throw them away or sell them (they don’t earn much either). This dampened my view of the game because I hate it when junk is thrown at me, only a few specific items are needed to brew potions and craft swords. The rest of the junk is lame. But I am nit picking now so on to the next criticism.
Which is that sometimes this game feels linear…… I am joking!, its probably the most non linear game out there. Every decision you make has consequences, and the game punishes you for stupid decisions.
And for those of you who think the game is running slow on your computers, turn off SSAO, its an ever hungry monster. It hardly improves the graphics (for me almost none) and destroys your framerate. I hope they fix this.
So this game has no DRM, difficulty settings to make all audiences happy, gives the M rating a new gold standard (which makes GTA 4 and Red Dead Redemption look like a bunch of sissies), allows you to craft items in an intuitive way, has a brilliant story, and has only minor nuances. But many of you are wondering, Witcher 2 or L.A Noire?, well I like to be brutally honest when it comes to game reviews because I know that games are not cheap and people like to think and ponder on their decision, especially when this game is competing with your wallets against L.A Noire. Well I have both and guess which one I was playing all night?, your guess is right. I am still on my first case on LA Noire while I just started the 3rd chapter of Witcher 2. And the game is 40 hours long, which is alot, compared to the 25 hours of L.A Noire. Get Witcher 2!.
I am always stingy with my ratings, just recently giving the all mighty Shogun 2 Total War a 3/5. So when I say this game deserves a full “5” i mean it.